The Missing Institution

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

There is no Jaime Escalante School of Mathematics Teaching, Michael Strong notes, but that’s the kind of missing institution we need to scale up quality instruction:

Teaching is fundamentally a performance art — real time interactions in chaotic and complex human situations. There are no institutions in our society that provide for an environment in which master practitioners of this performance art systematically transfer their expertise.


Imagine, instead, if Escalante had been a great martial arts teacher. He might have established his own school. Students from around the world would have flocked to learn directly from him. Gradually, some of his best students would open up their own schools. They would prominently display their lineage, the fact that they had studied directly with Escalante. People who were interested in becoming serious about a particular martial arts form would ask around to discover who were the best teachers. Those schools could charge a premium. Sometimes such schools would trace their lineage back through several generations of great teachers.

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